‘You just have to on it’ my landlord says in the annoyingly sweet voice she has deliberately put onto try and make me happy. It’s not working and she knows it. Since moving in 10 days ago I’ve woken up to no water in the house everyday, despite turning on the motor switch which powers the mechanism that fills the tank which enables me to have a shower and flush the toilet. Except it doesn’t work.
When i moved in the landlord promised me she would come over and press it every day and turn some handles on the tank and that would be it. After three days of having to call her out because we had no water, she would send her husband and ten year old daughter to translate, I realised she just wasn’t coming over to do the water. So then i tried to meet her to arrange a lesson in switches and knobs and tank changes so i could have a shower and flush the loo but she just failed to turn up, i’d phone she’d say she’s coming, i’d wait in the house, she’d not turn up, she’d wait until I was at one of our projects and call me to say she was in the house…waiting. And she was sorry and she would turn it on. And then she wouldn’t so I’d wake up to no water, call her out to fix it then get home to have no water and get them to do it again. Then I got someone to show me what to do. So I pressed the switch (apparently the handles aren’t actually that important, they switch tanks so if you turn them then you don’t have to press the switch as much?)
Then it flooded, ironically at the same time there was also no water in the taps, just rainwater waterfalling poring from the door on the roof, down the walls and soaking the makeshift office on the dining room table. YAY!
So on Saturday morning, when i woke up to no water, post flood i was on skyscanner searching for flights and simultaneously thinking which hotel I could go and hide in whilst phoning the landlord. Again, she said she was coming straight away with a plumber, I phoned my boss (helpfully on the other side of the country) who tried finding people so i could stay in and wait for. Then I did lose it. My day off the day before had been messed up by some very annoying people related situation, there was the flood, i’d spent most of my free time that week waiting and there was no way in hells earth I was staying in again.
Now the complicated thing about the bathroom is that even though the toilet wont flush, and the tap next to the toilet designed for when it wont flush and for, well, Indian toilet habits doesn’t work either but the shower does (WTF!?!) So after bluntly telling the landlady that I wasn’t waiting in as i’d been waiting for a week and that there was no actual point me being there either because I couldn’t even speak to the plumber when he did arrive and would need a translator… so she’s trying to find a plumber, my boss is trying to find a plumber and a translator and another colleague is doing the same. The landlady at this point says she has a plumber and is on her way! (Yay!) or Nay, everyone else looking, by which point i think it may have bene half the population of Kerala, said ‘it’s saturday there’s no chance you’ll get one’ so i went and hid. Yup.
A couple of hours later i get a text ‘Plumber been, toilet leaking, now fixed’.
A couple of hours after the text I get home. Is there water? What do you think…and that text about the plumber? Well i’m pretty sure she did the thing where when someone knows you want something they just say it even though it’s not true. It’s the same thing travel agents do when tourists ask if they can bath elephants in Kerala. The answer should be ‘Sorry no, the government made it illegal a few months ago’ instead it’s ‘Yes, sure’.
So I call the landlady out again. She sends her husband out, eventually,.who does something but I have no idea what… and then there’s water.
I go to sleep, At 1am I wake up with stomach cramps, it’s India after all and is the toilet working? Of course not. Many painful hours later, the landlady turns up and tells me it’s because I didn’t ‘on the switch’. I haven’t slept, my toilet doesn’t flush and well i’m stopping there because the visuals were just well painful. So i cry, she cries, she calls a plumber. She and the plumber have animated conversations that I don’t understand. She tells me. Everything is fine, it’s because…. yep, ‘I didn’t on the switch’. I text my boss and tell her i’m moving back to the house i’ve just left, she starts plumber hunting AGAIN and the landlady who has just told me it’s my fault and refuses to let me flush the toilet more than once to ‘check it’ slips the plumber 500 rupees which is ALOT of money for nothing.
So twenty minutes later and the rest of the water is working, apart from the toilet, Plumber number ‘3’ turns up (clearly number 2) and is so amazing I nearly give him a hug. He speaks English, he’s worked as a plumber in Dubai, he walks into my bathroom and flushes the toilet and is like ‘yep that’s a problem’. Goes to check the tank.Which is full.
I tell him he’s the third plumber of the weekend. He tells me he assumed I hadn’t turned the switch on and I was like, I have it’s more than the switch, he lifts up the lid of the toilet and is like ‘it’s broken’, fixes it, flushes it 4 times to prove to me it’s working, charges me 200 rupees and leaves.
And guess what. IT STILL WORKS.